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Organizaion and Storage

I have earth-shattering news.  I have a home.

Have you picked your jaw up off the floor?

I’ve been waiting to post this update for a couple of months, as I was planning to include pictures and wanted to have the place looking decent!  However, I’ve been busy lately with other changes in my life, which I’ll share with you in the near future, so when my place is nice enough to grace the pages of Domino (I miss that magazine!) you’ll find them here.

First things first.  I’ll explain how it happened.  When I began my nomadic venture this past November, I wanted to find a permanent home that fit my needs, rather than jumping into the first thing that was available.  I wanted the right size, price, and location, and at the time had expressed interest in a job on my team located in Chicago, so I wanted to remain flexible and avoid a lease at all costs.

One of my very generous friends is a pilot, and I often crashed at his apartment when he was on trips during my extended nomadness.  Lucky for me, he had the opportunity to “upgrade” apartments in his complex and moved into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom place with new hardwood floors, granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, and a spare room.  Guess who is living in spare?  That’s right- yours truly!

The situation is perfect for me.  (I hope my roommate says the same!)  The location is perfect, space is just right, and my rent is priced accordingly, so I’m still able to stock away savings every paycheck.  We rarely cross paths so it’s a pretty low-maintenance relationship.

Here’s a drawing of my floor plan.  (Curious about the awkward shape?  In other apartments, this is a porch.  On the top floor where our apartment is, it’s a room.)  I estimate it’s about 100 square feet.  (It’s difficult to measure.  I tried.)  The only pieces of furniture I bought were my bed and side table.  I’d been storing the bulk of my clothes on a rolling rack in my boyfriend’s garage, so I simply transported it to my new room.  In addition to the rolling rack, the small closet provides all the space I need for my down-sized wardrobe.  My roommate found a plastic shelving unit by our complex’s dumpster, and it was the ideal size to store my workout clothes.

With this move, I’ve transitioned to a new personal challenge- micro living.  I’m obsessed with the idea and have read a ton of interesting articles on how individuals, couples, and families make this work.  (Read about it yourself here, here, and here.)  It stresses organization and efficient use of space.  A common theme with micro-livers is their disregard for material possessions and the high value they put on time, freedom, and money, which all increase exponentially in a micro living lifestyle.

I think it’s easy to see that I’m benefiting greatly from this arrangement- my overhead is still extremely low, but I have a tiny spot in the world to call my own.  I couldn’t be more grateful!

Two posts ago, you read about how I’m legitimately living out of the trunk of my car.  Now I’ll dive into the details of day-to-day living.

Thanks to my wonderful employer and our lovely work facility, I have access to a weight room, yoga and kick-boxing classes, and a really nice locker room!  I try to take advantage of the weight room as much as possible during my lunch break.  I can pop over and put in about 45 minutes, then hit the showers in the locker room, and be back at my cube in an hour.  I was on a waiting list for about a year before I got my own locker!  This is perfect for my current lifestyle.  I have all my toiletries stored there so I can take a full on shower after work before I go out for the evening.  It’s really nice to have a central place to keep my stuff and shower, so I’m not tying up my friends’ bathrooms.  Plus, it’s cleaned daily, unlike most residential bathrooms.  😉

I purchased two really helpful items for my locker- a mesh hanging shower caddy and a microfiber towel.  I love this towel; I’m planning on replacing all of my fluffy towels with these compact ones.  They absorb water more quickly than regular towels and take up almost no space to store.  Perfect!

The most challenging thing to store is my clothes!  Right now they are on a collapsible rolling rack from The Container Store in my sweet boyfriend’s garage.  One or two times a week I visit my wardrobe, pick out outfits I’ll need for a handful of days, and store them in a laundry basket in the trunk of my car.  Ironically, because I have to take time planning what I’m going to wear instead of rummaging through my closet in the morning, my co-workers tell me I looked more put-together.  I’m dressing better as a homeless person!

Every day it becomes more routine.  Any time I feel annoyed with not having my own little spot in the world to call my own, I think about how lucky I am that I’m able to make this happen thanks to the people and situations in my life.  Thanks, Universe!

My first “secret-revealing” post, The Purge, told you all about how I narrowed down my possessions to just the essentials.  Now here’s the fun part!  I am an organization geek- I get overly excited about nesting boxes, file folders, and containers of all shapes and sizes.  I got rid of nearly everything I owned, but still have necessities I need to easily access while storing them somewhere.  My personal challenge with my living experiment is to operate as efficiently as possible as I go from one place to the next.   My goals are:

  1. Be organized and look nice (I don’t want it to be obvious I’m living out of my car!)
  2. Don’t leave anything (for more than a couple of nights) in my friends’ homes
  3. Leave a place better than I found it (life lesson from Girl Scout camping trips)

I have three places I store my things:

  1. Trunk of my car
  2. Locker at work
  3. Boyfriend’s garage (original plan was to rent a storage unit but I’m taking my time to shop around for the least sketchy, most convenient location that is safe to visit by myself in the evenings… it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack!)

What I access the most often (once or twice a day) is the junk in my trunk!  This is where I store my toiletries, pillow, blanket, accessories, and some clothes.

Sorry for the shadows in this photo!  Here’s a breakdown of my trunk storage.  I have three laundry baskets:

  1. The farthest basket towards the back of the trunk is for work-out clothes and pajamas (t-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, etc.)
  2. The white laundry basket (on the left) is for socks, slips, bathing suits, and other unmentionables.
  3. The gray laundry basket (on the right) contains the clothes I’m going to wear for the week.  Once a week (usually on Sunday) I go to my rolling rack of clothes in the boyfriend’s garage and pick out what I’ll need for work and any other extracurricular activities.

I have one basket of toiletries that I grab from when I stay at friends’ places.

I have two roll-up jewelry organizers- I downsized my accessory collection so it all fits!  They’re so convenient- when I’m dressed and on my way to work or to meet with friends, I just grab one of these and select what earrings, bangles, necklaces, or rings I want to wear, and I’m off!

Some other items hidden in the shadows of my trunk photo:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • A couple of books and magazines I’m currently reading
  • Travel pillow
  • Regular pillow and blanket
  • Basic purses (I got rid of the “fun” ones and opted to keep the classics/most versatile styles)
  • Nail polish and other “special occasion” lipsticks, eyeliners, and shadows
  • Lap top bag (although I don’t leave my PC in my car- too important!)

The whole process of adopting this lifestyle has had its learning curve.  Now, in my fifth week, it’s becoming much more routine.  I’ve had to get used to hauling around bags and laundry baskets, but it’s nice to have the important stuff within reach no matter where I stay.  In my next post, I’ll go into the details of my other storage spaces.